16 September 2011

Bring Down Your Wall!

Building the Berlin Wall, August 1961

Don't you hate it when you read an article, blogpost, or book you know you shoulda-coulda written (but didn't)?  Yeh, this is one of those times for me.  I hope you'll permit me a short ramble, fellow entrepreneurs.

Today, I came across a nifty CNET article by Dennis O'Reilly, How to Use Powerpoint Effectively I started kicking myself.

Reading it was like hearing the unexpected echo of my own voice.  Everything he says, I've told clients over and over and over.  How many times had I thought about distilling that particular advice into a blogpost or article (but didn't)?  Yes, O'Reilly swings a big bat standing on CNET's field, but why should that matter to me?  How many times have I failed, or hesitated, to share my expertise because of lame reasons roaming from --
  • "everybody already knows this stuff",
  • "this info is so minor, so insignificant, so underwhelming, who'll care?",
  • "I'll get shouted down by the Big Guys".
So, as I remind myself, I want to remind you:  we entrepreneurs are small, but we are *MIGHTY*.  Wherever we stand -- on the mound of Podunk Pitch or as the newbie doggedly fighting a way into the major leagues or as the Comeback Kid re-structuring our work/life -- we've got to Keep on Keeping On.

Why?   Keep on Keeping On isn't merely about courage, or persistence, or fame, or "success".  It's above and beyond the temporal.  Keep on Keeping On is about the eternal.

Our nanometric contributions to the world of Business, Entrepreneuring, or Life might indeed seem outshined by an O'Reilly or by the Tweetster with 1 million followers or by the special guest featured on Tavis or Charlie tonight.  Yet our minutest act is used by God for His own purposes -- to give courage to someone we never meet, to turn on the lightbulb over the next generation, to demonstrate courage to a friend or family member we don't realise is watching, to chip away at walls.

Let's consider Keep On Keeping On from another perspective...

Berlin Wall, 1962
The Berlin Wall, the 103-mile "Wall of Shame", stood from 1961 to 1989, completely cutting off West (free) Berlin from surrounding East Germany and East Berlin (both considered Soviet territory).   Guard towers built into, on top, and along the concrete walls overlooked a "death strip", a naked chasm between Eastern and Western areas and their checkpoints.  Families who'd once lived comfortably across the street from one another, awakened to discover they now lived on opposite sides of an impregnable border.

West Berlin women waving to their family, across the wall in East Berlin.

During the inglorious 28 years of the Berlin Wall, 25,000 East Berliners attempted escape to the West and freedom (BTW, that number is the most conservative estimate).  For their efforts, many failed and were imprisoned, nearly 1000 were shot and 239 died.

One lucky 17-year-old, in the early days before the Berlin Wall was
reinforced, makes it to the waiting arms of friendly West German guards.
On November 9th and 10th, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, dismantled in spirit and reality by decades of outright defiance, civil disobedience, and political negotiations.   Never forget, though, the wall built "to last a century" began falling even as its barbed wire, mortar, bricks, and concrete were stealthily assembled.  It fell because men, women, and children whose names are not engraved on any Facebook wall determined to strive for an impossible dream.  Year after year, night after night, brick by brick, chip by chip, they kept coming and coming.

The "Tombstones" memorial of the Berlin Wall commemorates each year
the wall stood.  The number in white on each black slab counts how many
people died trying to escape from the Eastern zone.
We all have our walls.  Massive or short, thicker-than-bricks or paper thin, self-built, inherited, or imposed upon us.  Whatever your personal wall is, you can take it down, tunnel under, or climb.  And the really good news?   When you do, friends will be waiting to give you a hand up and over.

November 9th-10, 1989 - West Berliners lined the top of the wall, the
western side, and along the checkpoints, cheering, hugging, and lifting
up East Germans.  By Christmas Day, the wall was in shards.
Keep On Keeping On.

N.B. - There are many excellent websites with accurate and detailed information about the history of the Berlin Wall.  One of the best, now available in English, is Chronicle of the Berlin Wall.

See you on the patio!

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